Monday’s storm hits Courthouse Square

Early in the Monday night County Commission meeting, 911 Director Iris Sermon advised the commission that the county was under a tornado watch and no one should leave the courthouse. During the storm period, several trees in various parts of the county, such as this tree on Mesopotamia Street as well as a tree in Courthouse Square were severely damaged as were at least one business and several other homes throughout the county.

Mandatory garbage pickup fees and rules were discussed at length at the regular meeting of the Greene County Commission.
Chairman Nick Underwood advised the group that he had spoken with Engineer Arzo Abrams, Vincent Atkins with the Greene County Water Authority and Iris Sermon with E-911.
“We ran into some snags but we have it pretty well mastered. Each resident will pay $13.90 per cart per month. Each business will pay the same rate.”
Underwood said that this rate could go up in a year and that the only exception allowed was for people whose only income was social security. The deadline on this plan was March 16.
Commissioner Tennyson Smith asked if churches were expected to pay the fee and was told they were in the same classification as businesses.
One of the big problems facing the garbage department is outstanding bills in the amount of $71,000 plus owed by current customers. Undwood said that the commission had three options – declare them uncollectable; take legal action; or place a lien on the property making it mandatory that past-due garbage bills be paid within one year.
No decision was made, but Underwood said he favored the lien process.
Another lengthy discussion was held concerning the county’s hiring the firm of Chestnut, Sanders, Sanders and Pettaway. Two of the commissioners still had some problems with the firm. Commissioner Marvin Childs said he felt one of the items needed to be excluded. Underwood had problems with the language in two items in the retainer agreement of the contract and Smith said he felt the attorney represented too many people and entities in the county to be able to represent the county commission.
Underwood said that the hiring of the law firm was already confirmed – the only problems were in the retainer agreement. “We need to revisit the cost to the county and try to find common ground,” said Commissioner Allan Turner.
After more discussion, it was voted 3-2 to delete item 6 in the contract.
In other business, the commission:
*Approved the financial report which showed the county had $1,726,011.41 in cash and cash equivalencies.
*Approved paying claims in the amount of $337,252.51 $289,619.09 of this was for payroll.
*Discussed the $583,000 matching funds the county had to have to secure the $2.9 million highway project. To date, the county has been able to put aside $200,000 of this money in a special account, which Underwood said would help keep the state from taking the grant somewhere else.
*Heard the recommendation from the Finance Committee headed by Ralph Banks, III to hire Paula Bird as the county’s financial manager. It was agreed to hire Bird, who has had prior work experience with both the city of Demopolis and Tuscaloosa. She is a resident of Forkland, AL.
*Was advised by Engineer Arzo Abrams that he was interviewing people for the positions of three CDL Drivers – one for the Solid Waste Department and two for the Highway Department.
*Approved bidding out the blades for the motor grader.
*Approved entering an agreement with West Alabama Planning Commission concerning any possible redistricting based on the results of the 2010 Census.
*Signed a proclamation proclaiming April as Child Abuse Prevention Week.
*Decided to participate in a statewide spring clean-up april 16-23 sponsored by PALS. It was discussed to have someone in each district coordinate the clean-up; to collect bottles and cans and separate them for recycling; to contact someone about recycling old cars.
*After some discussion concerning the fact that Greene County pays for both the Greene and Sumter County RSVP programs, it was decided to refund the program. However, the commission is planning to meet with the Sumter County Commission as soon as possible to seek help in funding the program, which had 195 senior volunteers who help out everywhere they can from the hospital and nursing home to any place they can be of help to the community.
*Unanimously agreed to participate in a cooperative purchasing agreement, but will not exclude purchasing from local vendors.
*Okayed a $17,000 reimbursement to the Probate Judge for funds expended by her office,
*Okayed placing a monument in honor of Viet Nam War Medal of Honor winner Matthew Leonard, who was born in Eutaw.
The plan is to dedicate the monument on May 30, 2011, which is Memorial Day.
*Approved transferring funds from the sheriff’s fund to cover $25,000 spend over the budget for personnel. The funds came from the jail fund and the sheriff’s office funds. The commission stressed that the money did not come out of the General Fund

Greene Co. Commission selects Underwood as chair

Pictured are Commissioners Tennyson Smith, Allen Turner, Jr., Elzora Fluker, William Underwood and Marvin Childs

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

The newly elected Greene County Commission held their first meeting on Wednesday evening, November 10, 2010, at the William M. Branch County Courthouse. As the first order of business, the Commission chose Nick Underwood of District 1 to be the Chairperson of the Commission for a term of two years. Elzora Fluker was elected as Vice-Chair at the same time.
The Commission agreed that its regular meeting would continue to be on the second Monday of each month at 6:00 PM at the County Courthouse.
The Commission also agreed to use both local banks, Merchants and Farmers Bank and Citizen Trust Bank, as depositories for county funds and for the Chair, Vice-Chair and County Administrator, Mattie Atkins, to be the signatories on accounts. Commissioner Underwood said that some accounts may be shifted between the banks at a later date.
Commissioner Underwood said that each commissioner would be assigned to supervise a specific area of county business and activities to assure more accountability and supervision of the County’s assets, programs and responsibilities.
Commissioner Fluker was assigned to Health, Education and Public Safety issues because of her experience with the school board and her work with the Sheriff’s Department. She was charged with monitoring the construction of a new school, the hospital and nursing home, the jail, E-911, Courthouse security, DHR and other issues connected with these areas.
Commissioner Allen Turner Jr. was assigned to County Personnel issues and asked to work on a personnel manual, staffing needs, a staff evaluation and training process and the activation of a county personnel board, which has been dormant.
Commissioner Tennyson Smith was assigned to work on Jobs and Economic Development, including liaison with the county’s Industrial Board, grant writing for state and Federal resources and the issue of tax abatements and other incentives to attract and maintain industry in the county.
Commission Marvin Childs was assigned to deal with Public Works including roads, bridges and other infrastructure and helping to provide oversight and supervision for the County Engineer and helping to recruit an assistant county engineer which is currently a vacant position.
Commissioner Underwood assigned himself to work on Finance, especially helping to get regular and accurate financial statements to account for county revenues and expenses. Underwood said that he would put these assignments in writing and give the commissioner more details on their assignments.
In other business, the Commission heard a report from Ms. Atkins of funds on hand indicating a total of $988,313.70 in various accounts, many of which are restricted to specific purposes and cannot be used for general support of the county.
The Commission discussed a request from the City of Eutaw to assist with the demolition of the swimming pool on Greensboro Avenue (Highway 14) in Eutaw. County Engineering Arzo Abrams said the county wanted to be helpful to the City of Eutaw but needed more specifics of the requirements of work to be done and the cost estimate. The Commissioners agreed that the County Engineer should negotiate a specific agreement with the city and bring it back for approval.
County Engineer Abrams presented low bids for stone and slag for road repair provided by Southeast Materials Company which were approved by the Commission.
The Commission approved Ms. Joanna Madison as a member of the Board of Directors of the Greene County Hospital and Nursing Home taking the place of Ms. Annie Gaines who wished to retire from the board at the end of her term.
The Commission tabled a request from interim Sheriff George Cook to make a $25,000 annual contract for medical services for prisoners at the county jail with Maude Whatley Health Services pending consultation with the incoming Sheriff Joe Benison. In the public comment period two members of the Greene County Hospital and Nursing Home Board, who were present, urged the commissioners to check with the county’s health facility before contracting with another agency.
The Commission approved writing a letter of support for a $6,000 grant to the Town of Boligee for solar powered caution signs on the road in front of Paramount School. These funds are from the “Safe Routes to Schools Grant”. West Alabama Regional Planning Commission in Tuscaloosa is assisting the Town of Boligee in applying for these grant funds.
The Commission approved a request for an Alcohol Beverage License for Karl Burton doing business as Karl’s One Stop in the Snoddy Community in District 1.
The Commission decided to recess the meeting until a special called work session to be held on Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 2:30 PM followed by a regular meeting at 6:00 PM that same night. The purpose of the meeting will be to deal with urgent problems facing the County and budgetary concerns for the coming year.

Newly elected commissioners sworn in

Commissioners being sworn in – District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne administers the oath of office to (L-R) Commissioners Tennyson D. Smith, Allen Turner and Elzora Fluker. Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway administers oath of office to Commissioners Nick Underwood and Marvin Childs.

The William M. Branch Courthouse was packed with supporters when Greene County Commissioners Tennyson Smith, Allan Turner, Jr., Elzora Fluker, William Underwood and Marvin Childs took their oath of office.
Pastor Thomas Gilmore, Greene County’s first Black sheriff and now pastor of First Baptist Church, Ensley, AL, brought greetings.
The evening began with the posting of the Colors by the Greene County Post 2007 of the American Legion.
Pastor Lynn Finch gave the invocation, followed by Pastor Keith Owens with the scripture and the District 4 Youth Choir singing America (My Country Tis of Thee.)
Pastor Thomas Gilmore gave the greetings, speaking of Greene County’s participation in the Civil Rights Movement and asked the audience to never forget the role Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. played in Greene County.
He quoted a portion of the speech that King made while accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway, “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.”
He also reminded those present of all they owe the men and women who came before them.
“You have the responsibility to remember the past,” he said. “While you are too lazy to register to vote,we had to fight for the right to vote.
“We had to go to court in 1969. We had to fight to get our names on the ballot.”
He spoke of the early political pioneers in the county such as Peter J. Kirksey and Judge William Branch.
Gilmore warned those present that today we were in a world where “we are being pushed back. It’s time to remember what another young man said only a few years ago – ‘Yes we can!’”
Following Gilmore’s speech District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne administered the oath of office to Commissioners Tennyson D. Smith, Allen Turner and Marvin Childs.
Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway followed, administering the oath to Commissioners William “Nick” Underwood and Marvin Childs.
After recognition of other elected and appointed officials, each commissioner spoke briefly, promising to do their best to serve the county.